Kitchen W8 is a “neighbourhood” restaurant just off High Street Kensington. It’s owned by Philip Howard, head chef and co-owner of two Michelin starred The Square and Rebecca Mascarenhas who owns a whole host of similar neighbourhood friendly restaurants in Balham, Chiswick and Barnes. The restaurant also holds a Michelin star so we had high hopes for our Sunday lunch.
The restaurant was fairly large and was very bright and modern. Once it filled up with the Kensington locals it had a pleasant buzzy atmosphere.
The only menu available was the set lunch priced at £29.50 for three courses. Unusually for us though we struggled to find anything on there that really excited or wowed us. During Sunday lunchtime the option of the slightly more varied a la carte isn’t available which was a shame.
No amuse bouche was offered which was a pity but the white sourdough bread was scarily addictive and some of the finest I’ve ever tasted! I wolfed down three large slices of the stuff!
I opted for the only starter that had a supplement (£2) which was confit loch duart salmon with pea bavarois, minted potato foam and citrus crumbs. It looked attractive and was a pretty solid dish; soft salmon, strong pea and a subtle potato flavour. It didn’t set my world on fire however. It wasn’t hot which was a shame as I think that would have made the whole thing more enjoyable.
My gentleman companion opted for the fricassee of Cornish mussels with mousserons (a type of mushroom) and hand rolled farfalle. The pasta was perfectly made and perfectly cooked but the accompanying sauce was far too salty, so much so that it was rather un-enjoyable. The mussels were soft and tender though so it wasn’t all bad.
The only main that took my fancy also happened to have a supplement (£3) which was roast rump of lamb with homemade mint jelly, roast potatoes, carrot and swede mash and cabbage. It was served in lots of little dishes which seemed a little cumbersome on the table; once I’d arranged it all on one plate I felt it had a much more appealing appearance. For a Michelin starred restaurant I had hoped for something a little more exciting/technically challenging than a roast but my God was it the best roast I’ve ever had. The lamb was a glorious shade of pink and was soft and succulent. The mint jelly was sweet and had an almighty thump of minty flavour. The roast potatoes had the desired crispy coating and fluffy centre and the gravy was rich full of meaty loveliness. I haven’t enjoyed a plate of food that much in a long time.
My gentleman companion had food envy as he tucked into his escalope of organic salmon with new potatoes and sprouting broccoli. It was good but nothing to write home about. The salmon was coated in more of those citrus crumbs that featured in my starter which gave it a little bit of texture. It was salmon, potatoes and broccoli cooked well; a safe dish that you might cook at home.
Still feeling rather hungry we decided to share a cheese course (£7.50). Some Tunworth, goats cheese and Stilton were all pleasant enough if not a little un-inspiring. They were the type of cheeses you might find on a Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference cheese board; pretty bog standard.
For dessert I opted for the lemon posset with blueberry compote and lime ice cream. The compote’s sweetness helped cut through all the acidity but the tartness from the posset and lime ice cream was totally overpowering. So sharp it made my eyes squint and my bottom clench. The posset hadn’t completely set making it runny underneath, like a soup.
My gentleman companion had the winning dessert; bitter chocolate pudding with salted caramel ice cream, praline and lime. The chocolate cake was in no way sickly yet it was pure decadence. It was drenched in a chocolatey caramel sauce which was ‘mmm’ inducing and totally luscious. Lime shavings over the top brought a freshness that really lifted the dish.
Service during our lunch was really charming and we couldn’t find fault with any member of staff. I think we simply would have enjoyed the whole experience more if we’d visited when the a la carte menu was on offer. We found the food a little hit and miss and it lacked any real excitement that we may have hoped for. That said, it was the best Sunday roast I have ever had so I’m bloomin glad we went!